Monday, November 30, 2009

more success

I still feel pretty good about my Turkey Trot time last week. Now that I'm back at work after 3 days off from any exercise at all I got back into the swing of things with another tempo run around my rectangular work loop. Last week I went CCW, so this week it's CW. I felt pretty rested and the conditions were favorable (49F, almost no wind and not raining) so I took off fast. Going CW, the first mile is at a slight downhill followed by a steep downhill. Going by my odd pacing system I was checking my watch every 5 minutes to see if I'd been able to cover another 0.7 miles. I was putting a good bit of time into the bank on the descents. After the steep downhill there's a short flat followed by the steepest hill on the route followed by a mile and a half of steady slight uphill. This is where I lose that time I put in the bank. I made it to the flat section of the backstretch about even 25 min, and 3.52 miles. (shooting for 5 x 0.7 or 3.5 miles)

I figured that I had a chance to hit my short term goal of 42 minutes as long as I could keep a good pace and really push hard along the last mile and a half which is mostly flat. First I had to get over a short steep hill and a few shallow rollers. I got over the rollers but had to stop and pull over for a pair of horses to walk by. This gave me a short rest to catch my breath for maybe 30 seconds. I'm sure it helped when I took off again. I was at the edge of being out of control on the dirt path descents, just trying to get my feet in front of me for a solid landing. I kept the pace and my 5 min. splits were just barely holding on to my 0.7mi goal. The last part of the rectangle is back onto sidewalk. I took one last drink of water and sprayed the rest out to get rid of the weight and sloshing. Luckily there was another jogger about 1/4 of a mile ahead for me to focus on. It took me almost a mile to catch him but I did right before reaching the gym parking lot and hitting my timing mark. I stopped the clock at:


Exactly meeting my goal. Of course my mind instantly thought: "Why couldn't I just have saved one second!" When I take the stop into account, who knows what I could have done. Maybe more, maybe less. I'm very happy that I managed to hit my 42 min so soon. It's a minute and a half better than my previous best. Of course now I'll want to break 40 min. as my next goal.


Dist: 6.00
Time: 42:00
Pace: 7:00 (Love the easy math)

On the way home from work I hit a massive traffic jam on Hwy 16. I'd heard that something was partially blocking the bridge that I have to cross to get home. I looked at Google Maps on my iPhone for the traffic and saw that not only was the freeway red from where I was all the way to the bridge (6 miles) but most of the side streets that I'd use to avoid the bridge were jammed up as well.

I took the opportunity to hit the local Borders and look at running books. Chris mentioned a book called Running Formula by Jack Daniels (unfortunate name) so I thought I'd skim it with the intention of buying it. I sat down and thumbed through the book to get a feel for it and while it's highly reviewed on Amazon, it looked way too complicated for me. The book was full of acronyms, math, and symbols representing different paces and types of training. I'm sure I could sit down and figure it out but it just didn't look like it'd be that fun to figure out the training principles, schedules and paces that I'd have to train at.

I remembered another book that was mentioned on a few of the Amazon reviews of Daniels' book called: Run Less Run Faster. I glanced through this book up and saw that it was a much simplified approach that followed some of the same core principles as Running Formula though not in nearly the amount of detail. Knowing that I don't have a lot of time to train each week and that my bad knee is a little sore the day after a fast / long run, I bought the book with "Run Less" in the title. I'm doing about 25 - 30 miles a week as it is and I'm very time limited with my training. Time will tell if I experience the 4 - 8% gains that the published study participants did on average. Looking at my past, I made the best gains in speed and form when I was running one day a week all-out and using a HRM to keep my HR below 70% on my recovery days. I'll give it a try for the winter, especially the cross training part and see how I'm doing come spring.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Trot 10K

Chris mentioned list week on Twitter that he was going to run a 10K on Thanksgiving and try to go deep in his "pain cave". I thought about how I'd been running and honestly missed running / riding / competing with Chris so I looked for and found a local 10K to run on Thanksgiving. I'd imagine that Thanksgiving is one of, if not the most popular day for 5K/10K races. Race directors love alliteration and what works better than "Turkey Trot"? **

Some failed suggesions:
Groundhog Day Gallop
Arbor Day Amble
Flag Day Flee
Columbus Day Canter
Hanukkah Hustle
Ramadan Rush

Moving on... Rather than give $3.50 for a their "convenience" fee I decided register on race day. I got up at 6am and was registered by 6:45. This left plenty of time for the 8am start. Time to sit in my car in the pissing rain listening to The Prodigy deciding what to wear. It was probably 50F and lightly raining by the time I went with just shorts and a short sleeve shirt. I Body Glided up and jogged down to the start by 7:50. I ate a Hammer Gel just before the race started which was probably a mistake. I should have taken it 20 min. before or not at all.

I didn't want to get caught up behind droves of slow joggers so I went right to the front of the starting area. I figured that I was a little too close to the front and would be in the way of a few faster runners at the start but surprisingly this wasn't the case. Also, to you casual runners who line up at the front of the start area with your iPods wearing a hoodie or big jacket: why? Sure it's a run for fun, but a few people are out there trying to run as fast as they can. Let them stand in the front.

The "Ready? Set. GO!" was given by the race director and the field was off. I took a quick start and was behind the 4 leaders for about the first half mile. I went out a little bit fast for the first mile and figured that I wouldn't be able to hold onto the pace for long so I had to slow down a little. There were a few small rises and falls on the first mile. At the mile one mark I hit the "lap" button on my Garmin and saw that I ran it in 6:08. I was shooting for a hair under 6:50 average miles.

My pace slowed down going into mile 2 which started with a slight downhill followed by a 1/4mi uphill. The hill was a real grind after the first mile and left me gasping as I reached the top. A few people passed me during the climb, including the eventual female winner. After the hill there was a long straight with a slight decline. I took the second mile in my slowest split: 7:11. We made a left turn and hit a couple of rollers. Nothing huge but big enough to slow down the pace quite a bit to the turn-around. My 3rd mile split was 7:03 and I was starting to feel a little better. My breathing wasn't as labored and mentally knowing that I was half finished felt good. I was hanging on somewhat.

The next mile was mostly the reverse of mile 3 meaning that there was more descending than ascending. The route went a slightly different way to keep us from running down the real grind hill from mile 2. I fared a little better on mile 4, taking 6:50 to finish it.

Mile 5 was again biased toward descending but began with a short hill that was harder than it looked. I grabbed some water at the water stop at the top of the hill which was a mistake. They had tiny bathroom-sized Dixie cups for water yet I managed to get the whole two ounces of water down my throat before I was ready and choked a little. I kept my pace up and finished mile 5 in 6:46.

The last 1.5 mi of the 10K course were also the finish for the 5K course so my last mile was spent trying to weave around the people walking or slowly plodding along on the 5K. I'm sure they could have planned this better so that the back (walkers) of the 5K race wasn't finishing when the top 10% of the 10K race was coming in. Despite this I convinced my legs and lungs to keep pushing and finished the last mile in 6:37.

According to my Garmin watch, the course was .2 miles short, or 6.01 miles. My time was 40:39 which would work out to a 41:57 10K if I extrapolated my last mile time for another .2 miles. Just under the 42 minutes I predicted. Given the rain and the hills, which were much more than I thought there would be, I did really well. It's good to know that I still have some speed in my legs. I think I could have gone harder today and avoided a few mistakes to take maybe 10 - 15 seconds off given my current shape but I'm very happy with the race.

Dist: 6.01
Time: 40:39
AvS: 6:47 / mi.
Finishing place: ~15th out of several hundred. (2000 for the 5K/10K combined)

1 6:08
2 7:11
3 7:03
4 6:50
5 6:46
6 6:37

Oddly the splits add up to 40:35. I guess I lost a few fractions of a second in the calculations.

** Looking on, there were 54 events with "Turkey Trot" in the title on 11/26/09 7 of them in Ohio (all different cities) which edged out Virginia with 6.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Four store loop.

The plan this past Sunday was the same as last Sunday: 2 hours of running. I picked out a route through Gig Harbor that could be either 15 or 16 miles depending on what I did at the end. After averaging 8:30 miles last week in the rain I'd plan to run 15 unless I was a bit faster and feeling good. I packed up for the run which is turning into quite the ritual now that I'm going a little longer:

Clothes (shorts, tights, two shirts, gloves, hat, socks, shoes)
Body Glide in the chafing spots
Ultimate Direction bottle filled with a scoop of HEED
A baggie in one pocket with two scoops of HEED for later
One Hammer Gel
Two S-Caps and $10 in the pouch of the UD bottle.
iPod Nano charged up and loaded with podcasts
Garmin Forerunner charged

After all of that I stand around outside until the Garmin locks onto enough satellites and then I'm on the road. I headed out to Fox Island first and quickly realized two things: A) it was warmer than I thought so the tights, gloves and possibly even the second shirt were overkill. B) It was really windy along the water. I was getting pushed around a little bit running down the road toward the Fox Island Bridge. Going across the bridge was another challenge all together. I actually kept my left hand down close to the thigh-high railing along the sidewalk going over the bridge. The wind was strong enough that I was worried about getting pushed into the railing and / or having my new hat blow off. Luckily neither happened.

I ran up the main road on Fox Island (a big hill) to the top and then turned around at the 5 mile point to find the gas station / convenience store that I couldn't find two weeks ago. Another option for food/water when I'm out running is always good. I didn't need it today as I wasn't drinking too much so my 20 oz bottle was lasting me longer than I thought it would. I came back down the hill and carefully across the bridge. I ran back to the Arletta store to the 10 mile point where I stopped to buy a bottle of water to refill my hand-bottle and re-mix some HEED. I didn't get anything to eat having just eaten the lone Hammer Gel that I'd packed.

I set off down Ray Nash drive, not my favorite road to run as there are some areas with minimal shoulders heading North. I was still feeling pretty good at this point and kept my pace around 8:00/mile. It's not the easy 8 min pace that I had when I was in my late 20s and could just trot around the track spouting 8 min. miles all afternoon. I had to work a bit for these miles. I followed Ray Nash out to Rosedale to yet another small convenience store that I had planned on stopping at. I still had most of my bottle of HEED so I just turned left onto Kopachuck dr. and started up the hill. It's a short hill but still slows you down a good deal. At the top of the hill it's flat for the next mile and then you hit a long grind of a hill up to Kopachuck State Park. You're rewarded with a downhill immediately after and then another uphill/downhill pair to chew on. Flat roads? Haven't seen any.

At this point I was feeling a little fuzzy. I didn't put it together at the time but I probably hadn't been eating enough on the run. I probably put down 180 Cal. in HEED and another 125 in Hammer Gel but I'd run 12.5 miles already. I was fuzzy enough that when I reached the part of the course where I could either head back in a more direct route for 15 or keep going around the long way for 16, I forgot about the short cut and kept running. I looped back to Ray Nash and headed South back to the Arletta Store. I remembered a sign in the store saying that all ice cream was 20% off but I was only a mile or so from home and didn't want to stop. I was watching my pace hover at 8:00/mi. With a good last mile I figured I could hold on to that. I pushed hard on the last two significant hills on Horsehead Bay rd and just gutted it out the last half mile or so to reach the driveway in 2:08:58 for 16.1 miles. Perfect 8:00/mi pace. Just lucky really.

Stats for the run:
Dist: 16.1
Time: 2:08:58 (I'd only be about 10 miles behind Meb in NYC)
Pace: 8:00/mi
Alt: 3965'
Calories: 325

I have to say that there's no way that the altitude can me accurate. I just don't buy it at all. I'm looking around online to see if I can find some kind of ratio for getting that back to a realistic number. That said there were still plenty of hills on the route. I was a little beat when I finished but I think that was more due to the lack of food.

My legs weren't feeling too bad after the run so I went for a shorter run at work today (Monday) with my new Brooks Defyance shoes. They feel almost identical to my Adrenaline shoes.

Dist: 4.95
Time: 38:55
Avs: 8:00 (odd coincidence)
Alt: 900
Calories: 0 (just water)

My legs are a bit sore now and hopefully some stretching will help later. I'm not going to be running the next two days so that I can rest up for a 10K that I'm hoping to fit into my schedule on Thursday (Thanksgiving) morning. I heard that Chris was going to do one so I thought I'd give it a shot too. Sometimes I'm a bit competitive I guess. Ego.

One more thought before clicking "publish": I started listening to a podcast called: The Quadrathon podcast. It's a British guy living in LA who's training for and running ultra-marathons. It's pretty interesting as he talks about strategy, drop bags, gear, pacing, etc... He records part of the podcasts while he's running apparently. At one point it struck me that I was listening to a podcast of a guy running. He wasn't speaking for a few minutes, just finishing the last mile of a race. I could hear his footsteps as I was running holding a similar cadence. Running while listening to someone running. I wonder what he was listening to while he was running...

The bits in his podcast about packing his drop bags for a 50 mile race was pretty interesting and something I haven't given much thought to. The one 50 mile race I did had good enough support that drop bags were un-necessary. Some day I'll have that problem though.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cold and cramp-free

I barely had time to fit in my run today at lunchtime. I did the 6mi. loop that I've been running lately from the gym only in the opposite direction today. I try to switch directions every week. I don't think either direction is easier, the hills come sooner in the CCW direction. I run for speed one day a week and that was today.

I felt pretty good this morning and tried taking an S-Cap before the run. I've never tried them before, only Enduralytes. I didn't have any cramping on the run so they worked okay so far. I probably didn't need it with the cold weather but I want to test them out and see how my body reacts. S-Caps claim to be more powerful than Enduralytes and are more recommended in the ultra running community from what I read.

I pushed the pace from the start and saw the Garmin report a sub 6 minute pace for the first 1/2 mile or so. I don't know how accurate the watch is at a glance though. It feels neat to see the current pace start with a 5 even if it's short lived. If I'm ever going to break 40 min. for the route I'll need to start out fast as I hit the short steep hills around the 1 mi. mark which quickly slows my pace. Once through the hilly trail segment I run on a loose gravel path along side a quiet road for a couple of miles. There are a few small rolling hills along this backstretch. I make a left turn and find myself speeding down a steep hill on the pavement at sub-6 pace again for maybe 1/3 of a mile. It's short lived glory though as I have to run back up an equally steep/long hill soon after.
At the top of that hill I have a very gradual incline for the next mile until the route flattens out bringing me back to the gym. The route is almost a perfect rectangle.

I was pretty gassed by the finish and happy with my time, less than a minute off of my PR for the route.

Dist: 6.0
Time: 43:30 (7:15 pace)

Update: My previous best was 43:39, so today was actually 9 seconds faster than my PR for the route. Nice!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Testing blogging from the iPhone

Speaking of the forest and the trees, I was startled during yesterday's run when I heard a loud crack and then a heavy sounding (WHUMP). I looked ahead to my left to see a large section of rotted out tree that had just fallen into a gulley on the side of the road. It was loud enough to startle me over the podcast that I was listening to.

Would it have still made noise if I hadn't been running by at that exact moment?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The forest and the trees

I'm still keeping up with the running, I'm just lazy about writing it up. The amount of time I have to work out in a given week depends on two things: my meeting schedule at work and my family plans on Sundays. I go to the gym every day to work out at lunch and then I usually plan a two hour block to exercise on Sundays.

I've been tweaking my weekday gym schedule lately to be more running-focused. I had been lifting 4 days a week and doing cardio 1 day. Now I'm doing 3 days of cardio, and two days of lifting. Since the weather is still in the high 40s I'll usually run my 6mi. loop two of those cardio days and do some kind of machine at the gym the other cardio day. I've been having rotator cuff pain recently so I'm limiting my weight lifting to exercises that keep my arms by my side or don't bear any weight. Basically arms and legs only for now.

My running has been going pretty well lately. One of the runs during the week I'll try to go at about 90% - 95% effort for tempo training and for the other I'll back off to 80%. I do a long run on Sunday (lately anyway) and I'm finding this to be an enjoyable combination. We'll see if I'll keep this up when the temps drop to the low 40s or high 30s in the heart of winter. I don't know if I want to push this hard in that kind of weather. We'll see what I can scrape together for winter gear.

Last weekend I did a 12 mile run but I didn't start until about 4pm. I thought for some reason that it wouldn't get dark until 5:30pm which was about an hour off. It was getting pretty dark 4 miles into the run. Luckily I had the foresight to bring along a bright blinky light and a reflective vest to wear over my white long sleeve shirt. I probably looked like a Fred but I came back unscathed after a good hour running on the shoulders with no street lights on a dark overcast night. It was strange running down a long hill with no traffic where I couldn't even see the road under my feet. I felt great during the run which went by pretty fast while listening to NPRs Fresh Air podcasts.

Today I took to it again in the middle of the day. I didn't do very well with my pre-run nutrition and had heartburn during the 2nd half of the run. I had some soreness in one calf as well, likely from the long gym session Friday evening where I did: Squats, Lunges, Leg Press, Leg Extensions, Leg Curls, Calf Extensions, Adductor and Hip Flexor exercises plus 40 min of cardio. I'd run my 6 mile loop at lunch on Friday so my legs were a little sore come today.

I ran an out-and-back course today that passed a small store 4 miles into the run and then again 10 miles into the run. This worked out perfectly as I just carried a bag with 2 scoops of HEED in my pocket and bought a bottle of water from the store each time I passed by. I brought two Hammer Gels with me as well. I didn't feel very good after eating the first one so I didn't bother with the second. I forgot to bring any electrolytes but I was able to get away with it because of the low temps and light rain that kept me pretty cool the whole run. It certainly seems that no matter where I run in Gig Harbor, it's hilly. I managed to register a Garmin-claimed 4500' of ascending on today's 15 mile route. I don't have a good way to baseline the accuracy of my watch yet but I don't think it's far off. I only remember a few flat sections come to think of it.

I kept a pretty good pace but I was starting to feel fatigued by the 12 mile point. It wasn't terrible and I'll chalk it up to my poor pre-run eating and sore muscles. I hope it'll be better next weekend. I timed the run perfectly with my podcast selection and managed to listen to Competitor Radio Podcasts featuring: Chris McCormack, Bill Rogers, John McEnroe, and Erica Davis finishing the last podcast with 200m to go.

I don't know what I'm training for if anything. I'd like to get back into the occasional race if I can do it in a way that doesn't impact my time with the family too much. I have zero interest in entering another marathon* but local 50K races sound like a better deal financially and enjoyment-wise. I started today's run just after my daughter went down for a nap and as soon as I got home I changed and we took her to the pool which she loved but my back and hamstrings didn't. I chatted with Chris (over SMS) today and based on that decided to bring my HRM on the run. I came up with the following data:

Avg HR: 144
Max HR: 165
HR 1hr after the run: 60
HR now: 46

As for the run:
Dist: 14.98mi
Time: 2:06:53
Pace: 8:28/mi
Alt: 4580

I wonder how much faster I'd be if I were 10 lbs lighter. :)

* Paying $100+ to enter a marathon seems silly now that I've done a dozen of them. I don't see myself entering any more marathons with the following exceptions:

New York City: I was going to run it in 2003 but got injured and never got to run it.
Big Sur: Once for the scenery
Some decent race if I can ever convince my sister to run one with me. (Portland?)